Cavs’ Parker and Smith back to college searchPublished 10:33pm Thursday, February 6, 2014
The college plans of Lakeland High School field hockey players Summer Parker and Kasey Smith were decimated on Tuesday when Radford University announced it was discontinuing its field hockey program.
The decision came just prior to National Signing Day on Wednesday when the two girls were set to make official their commitments to the Division I Highlanders alongside four Lakeland teammates, who were signing with other schools.
“Disbelief,” was the first word that came to former Lakeland coach Tara Worley’s mind in describing her response to the news. “My reaction was that it was dirty, it’s inconsiderate.”
Parker and Smith had made verbal commitments to Radford about a year ago and, as a result, had turned down many other offers.
National Signing Day is when the hard work of college recruiters comes to fruition, the next year’s rosters are largely filled and the available scholarship money is dispersed.
“Even if they find somewhere else to play, they won’t be able to get the same scholarship anywhere until maybe their sophomore year,” Worley said. “On top of that, a lot of deadlines for even applying for college are coming up.”
Though the decision by Radford’s Board of Visitors was made right before signings would take place to make the scholarships official, the university has informed Parker and Smith that it will grant them the scholarships should they still decide to attend there.
In a statement, Radford Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg listed some of the factors considered in the assessment that brought about the end of the school’s field hockey program, along with a few other offerings. Among the factors were competitive success, high school and college sports participation rates, resource requirements and budgetary concerns.
Radford’s field hockey program had not been very successful as of late, but they were bringing a bumper recruiting crop, with Parker, the leading scorer in the state for 2013, and Smith, a fellow first team all-state talent.
Worley said the girls likened their reaction to the news to hearing about someone having died.
She added she has not given up hope for finding them a new college home at which to play the sport they love, but time is of the essence.
The girls pressed on and spoke about their future plans on Wednesday.
“I’m trying to look on different colleges,” Parker said. “Coach Worley’s been helping me with that and Scotty Tyson, which is my club coach, he’s helping me and my dad and mom have been looking all day. So, hopefully I’ll find somewhere, and if not, I still have my scholarship at Radford, so just I wouldn’t have field hockey.”
Worley said Parker has clearly communicated her interest to continue playing field hockey somewhere, while Smith has been more selective on where she would want to pursue the sport.
Smith said, “Coach Worley and my travel coach and my coach at Radford are starting to talk to other colleges and trying to get my name back out there, and hopefully I can get back on a team and start playing again, and get offers for next year, since they’re all kind of given up for this year.”